When Aroldis Chapman was traded to Chicago in July, Cubs brass made it clear: They were going for a title. Now, after a tumultuous offseason in which he was involved in a domestic violence incident and suspended by MLB for 30 games, he has made his new life in Chicago and, after recording three saves in three Cubs NLDS wins, is hoping he's on the road to a championship. We followed him through a game day in August to find out what it's like to be the new guy in town.
"My mom, my dad, my children, my sisters, they are everything to me. Thank God we have been together since I was little, we all grew up together, together all the time. We have always been very close, the five of us. Do [we] all live together? Yes. Thank God I was able to bring them here [to the U.S.]. The only one missing is my other sister, who lives in Italy.
"Ashanti is my sweet 'negrita'. She's so smart. She's gotten so big. She speaks perfect English. I am ashamed that [she speaks much better than I do]. She's now 7 years old. Atticus is my little, crazy boy. I do not get to see him much because he lives in Cincinnati. But when I have any chance, I spend time with him. It must be true that blood is thicker than water because he even sleeps with a ball. I don't know yet if he will be left-handed or right-handed. He thinks he is ambidextrous. He does everything with both hands.
"Angelina is my baby. She's only a year old. I bring her on the road sometimes after I have spent some time without seeing her. My children are everything to me. And the three of them are driving me crazy [laughs]."
Santiago Mateo, who helps Chapman with day to day needs during the season, also serves as a translator for Chapman and the Cubs. Mateo says he and Chapman view each other as brothers due to their long-standing work together.
"I'm a closer, so [during the season] I only go to the gym once a week. I follow a strict workout of about two hours. What I do is work hard in the offseason and spring training. I don't go to the gym on a daily basis because it makes my muscles tight when I get in the game."
"On a game day, I rest a lot. If the game is at 7 p.m., I get up at around 1, 1:30 p.m. I stretch my muscles. I usually stay in here [in the apartment]. Very few times, people see me walking down the street. Then I get a late lunch. I talk on the phone with my friends and family or watch something on television. Then I go to the stadium. I arrive one-and-a-half or two hours before dress. Out there, I go out and do some light throwing and running."
Not even Aroldis Chapman can get his name spelled correctly on a Starbucks cup (yes, that's "Chaplin").
"Many people are talking about [the Cubs] going to the World Series. I don't think about that. In order to make it to the World Series, you have to go through many things first. You cannot think about the end when you have not even gotten to the beginning. We're going to the playoffs. We focus on winning [the divisional series], then after that is the next step [the NLCS].
"You have to take it step by step. You can't think of the World Series when you haven't even gotten there yet. We may have the best record, be the best team, whatever, but you can go right now to the playoffs and be out in the first round. We will see what happens from here."
"The fans have been so good and welcoming to me. All I want to do is perform well. I'm here on a winning team. I want to go far with this team. God willing, I can put a ring on with this team."
"A lot of people ask me, 'How can you throw 105 mph?' I don't know. I just throw, and it gets to that speed. For me, it is not important to reach a particular speed, whether 105, 102 or 99 mph. The most important thing is how you work your arm, how you take care of your arm and how you keep your arm strong.
"My coach, Rafael Castillo, was the one who told me, 'This year, we will throw 100 miles per hour.' That guy gave everything for me. [In the beginning,] I was so lazy. But because of him, I started to work and train hard. I started going home only for vacation; the rest of the time, it was just work, training, running, working out at the gym. He got inside my head, and then everything was like automatic: 'I have to work, run, go to the gym.' Then I came here [to the U.S.], and that's what I did. I was always working hard."